VIEWS: 26 PAGES: 3 CATEGORY: Social Sciences POSTED ON: 6/3/2010
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372 BOOK REVIEWS This book is not specifically aimed at the inte- trading. The author provides other examples of gration of psychology and Christianity. However, good decisions derived from group behavior. Dr. Nicholi does a masterful job of weaving in “Just follow the crowd,” is a mantra many use examples from his own clinical practice and when finding their way to a sports event or party. research to illustrate the fit between intrinsic reli- It turns out that problems of coordination are gious faith and psychological well-being. I would solved by crowds on a regular basis. heading for recommend this book to Christian psychothera- the exits after morning worship, choosing a route pists; it has also proven a valuable classroom tool to a favorite restaurant, or negotiating city side- to encourage students’ consideration of how dis- walks are coordination problems. A third prob- parate worldviews influence our approach to lem is one of cooperation. What was surprising psychological issues such as suffering, sex, love, following the Greensburg tornado disaster of 4 morality, and death. May, 2007 was how few lives were lost. As soon * * * as the tornado had destroyed every house in town, people were milling about in the dark as THE WISDOM OF CROWDS. James Surowiecki. they systematically searched for survivors. Secular NY: Anchor Books, 2005. Pp 306. Reviewed by and religious rescue teams were soon on site Geoffrey W. Sutton (Evangel University, Spring- with food, water, and other necessities. field, MO). Drawing on behavioral science research, The next time you are part of a large group or Surowiecki identifies four conditions important crowd, have a look around. Would you trust to successful group outcomes. First, there needs them to make a wise decision on your behalf? to be a diversity of opinions presented. This is How about guessing the weight of an ox after it not always pleasant; however, the groupthink has been slaughtered and dressed? James effect will eliminate the value of input into Surowiecki, staff writer for The New Yorker, group problem-solving unless a multiplicity of begins his foray into collective intelligence by ideas can be generated. Second, people need to taking us back to century old findings by Sir proffer their opinions independently. Putting for- Francis Galton. The crowd of 787 that Galton ward a consensus opinion subtracts value. Third, observed weighed in with an average ox weight decentralization is important so that people with guess of 1,197 pounds. The actual weight was various areas of expertise are part of the total 1,198. Not bad! Surowiecki’s thesis is that under group presenting opinions. Finally, there needs certain conditions, a crowd is smarter than an to be a way of aggregating the information. In individual is. the past, collecting and organizing a vast array of The author divided the book into two parts. In opinions would have been incredibly time con- the first part, readers will learn three types of suming. Fortunately, web-based input and problems that appear amenable to solutions by google-like algorithms can produce quick and the wisdom of crowds
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